The Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League suspended defensive lineman Chris Larsen after learning of his potential involvement in an alleged physical assault and hate crime last Saturday in Toronto.
According to a report in the Canadian Press, David Gomez, 24, said he and a friend were walking home from Hanlan's Point, an LGBTQ+ enclave in Toronto, when they got into a dispute with a group of people that allegedly included Larsen. Police have been tight-lipped about the investigation but are asking for the public's help. Friends of Gomez have established a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of his medical injuries.
"Late last night, we were made aware of social media allegations of an assault by a group of individuals that included Chris Larsen and immediately commenced an investigation which is ongoing," Mark Goudie, CEO of Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), the parent company of the Redblacks, said in a statement posted to social media. "Today we were advised that an investigation by the Toronto Police is underway."
According to police, Gomez and an unnamed 27-year-old woman were subjected to homophobic abuse by a group of individuals at around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 5. A woman in the accosting group grabbed the unnamed woman with Gomez while the two men in the group started punching and kicking Gomez."
Police described the first suspect as a Black man, 25 to 32 years old, with dreadlocks and a muscular build. Larsen is suspected of being the first suspect. The second suspect is a white man, thin build, also possibly wearing dreadlocks. A white woman, aged 22 to 28 years old, with long blonde hair is also sought by police.
"The attack left David unconscious for some time, and he awoke to find out his nose had been broken, cheekbone and orbital bone shattered, a splint in his hip bone and a concussion," wrote Cianan Liburd on the GoFundMe page raising funds for Gomez. At the time of writing, the fund has raised over $48,000, surpassing its initial goal of $40,000.
Larsen was drafted in 2019 by the Redblacks but returned to school for a year and has yet to play a game with the team. It is unclear now if he will ever play a down as a Redblack or a member of the CFL.
Police are asking for witnesses, especially those who witnessed the assault or have video of the incident, to contact Detective Constable Lauren Hassard 9854 at 52 Division via email at Lauren.Hassard@torontopolice.on.ca. Anyone with information can also contact Toronto Police at 416-808-5200, Crime Stoppers (anonymously) at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, online on the TPD Facebook Leave a Tip page, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).
This is the most recent case of a football player allegedly involved in a violent hate crime. According to a report in Planet Transgender,Isememen Etute, 18, a linebacker for the Virginia Tech football team, appeared in court last Thursday to face charges in the beating murder of a transgender woman he had met on Tindr. Etute had allegedly met up with Angie "Gigi" Smith for sex on at least two occasions. During the second encounter on May 31, Etute allegedly learned Smith was trans and proceeded to beat her so severely it knocked the teeth out of her mouth, broke all the bones in her face, fractured her school, leaving her dead from the injuries. Etute allegedly admitted the assault to police, saying he left her on the floor in her apartment "bubbling and gurgling" as he left.
RELATED | Two Gay Men Set On Fire In Horrific Hate Crime